Regulatory Compliance Update: Advances Made in the 2023 Financial Year

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After a U.S. Department of Labor investigation found dozens of children employed in the hazardous work of cleaning meatpacking facilities, often in overnight shifts, the Office of the Solicitor quickly took action against Packers Sanitation Services Inc., the janitorial contractor serving meat processing corporations. “We successfully sought a temporary restraining order in federal court to stop the practice and then obtained a nationwide consent judgment to prevent future abuses”. Ultimately, the company paid a historic $1.5 million in penalties for its use of unlawful child labor across eight states. 

The case above is just one example of the impact we had in the past fiscal year as we enforce the law to protect workers and stop abuses. Solicitor of Labor has set enforcement priorities to strategically use their limited resources to achieve the greatest possible impact. They are focused on combatting retaliation and worker misclassification, advancing developments in the law to increase worker protection, and fully utilizing the tools available to us under the laws we enforce. 

They also undertake their work on these priorities with particular attention to workers earning the lowest pay or who can least afford to leave their jobs. As this year’s report highlights, they have expanded the work against retaliation, using our enforcement litigation as well as amicus briefs to promote continued worker-protective development of the law. They’ve also deepened the use of all the tools available, from subpoenas to enhanced compliance agreements, to increase enforcement effectiveness. 

The report discusses examples of work that demonstrates progress on these priorities, including how they took on cases and won relief for workers in a variety of industries, from healthcare to customer service, whose employers had erected barriers to workers going to court to protect themselves through the use of mandatory arbitration. In court and in negotiated settlements, they obtained wide-reaching orders and agreements designed to achieve the broadest possible worker protections at national firms with repeated safety and child labor violations. In a nutshell, they have used all available means, from piercing the corporate veil to ensure fines are paid, to holding individuals in contempt, to making criminal referrals to ensure employers who put workers in danger cannot escape accountability. 

The Solicitor of Labor provided critical legal support and advice in thousands of investigations, and where employers refused to cooperate with the department, they helped investigators do their jobs by obtaining 37 warrants and enforcing 48 subpoenas. But even this report is only a sample of the work’s impact. 

Learn more about what we do at dol.gov/sol, and review more of our notable enforcement actions at dol.gov/agencies/sol/news. Read the Fiscal Year 2023 Solicitor of Labor Enforcement Report. Seema Nanda is the solicitor of labor. 

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